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Sweden's Lundqvist Ready to Take Next Step

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05-07-2004, 11:00 AM
  #1
NYR469
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Sweden's Lundqvist Ready to Take Next Step

Sweden's Lundqvist Ready to Take Next Step
5/7/2004

by Alan Adams

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC -- Henrik Lundqvist’s idea of starting a playoff tradition in the Swedish locker-room was not catching on.

Since arriving in the Czech Republic as the No. 1 goalie with the Swedish National Team, Lundqvist has been growing a beard. He equates the 16-day tournament to a NHL playoff series and follows the NHL close enough to know that beards as part of the NHL ritual.

But outside of Daniel Alfredsson – who never shaved his post-season beard after the Ottawa Senators were eliminated - no one else wasn’t shaving.

“I think I am the only one on the team but someone has to do it,” says Lundqvist.

Truth be known, Lundqvist can’t wait to sprout a playoff beard with the New York Rangers, who made him their seventh pick, 205th overall, in the 2000 NHL draft.

And as far as late draft picks go, Lundqvist may turn out to be one of the best steals ever.

Lundqvist has starred for Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League over the past two seasons. He played in 48 regular season games this season and his 2.17 goals against average and .917 save percentage were most respectable. Last season, he took over as the club’s starting goaltender midway through the season and helped lead Vastra Frolunda to the Swedish Elite League championship.

He’s been the backbone of the Swedish National Team here at the pressure-packed 2004 IIHF World Championship and is a main reason why the Swedes could end up winning the gold medal.

“He has been awesome and from what I have heard he has been pretty good in Sweden this year as well,” said Alfredsson. “Henrik looks much more like a European goalie than an NHL goalie. He is big and he challenges the shooter pretty well and his biggest asset is his patience in the net. He does not go down too early. He waits for the shooter to make the first move and that is his greatest asset.”

Lundqvist follows the NHL, especially the Rangers and his goal is to join the Blueshirts next season, even if it means going to the minors.

“It would be great to play in the NHL and from the time I was drafted by the Rangers, that has been my dream and my goal to play some day in the league,” he says. “The Rangers are such a great club … yes they have not been so successful in the last few years, but it is a great franchise. The Rangers have such a great history.”

“It would be great to just skate with the guys in the camp next fall. I am looking forward to the camp and I am hopeful the Rangers will sign me.”

Lundqvist knows it’s a big step from Sweden to the NHL but it’s one he feels he is ready to make. He just hopes the Rangers have confidence in him.

“I am having a great time in Sweden and I am playing for the club I always wanted to play for. It (Frolunda) has been my favorite club since I was a kid and I want the Rangers to believe in me before I step over,” he says. “I am not going over just for the sake of going over. I want to feel that the Rangers really believe in me before I step over.

“I think I am ready, maybe not the NHL, but if I had to spend one or two years in the minors I will take that. But it feels like the right time to come over. I have been playing good in Sweden and with the National Team for two years.”

It’s not always an easy transition from the wider ice surface used in European arenas to the narrower sheets in NHL arenas. The angles are different and the game is different. But Lundqvist is not worried.

“I think it will fit my game because I have an aggressive style,” he says. “I like to come out and challenge the shooter.”

And like all Swedes, he follows how his countrymen are doing in the NHL and in Lundqvist’s case, he has kept an eye on Tommy Salo when he played for Edmonton and now Colorado, along with Michael Telqvist of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rangers Interim Head Coach and Vice President of Player Development Tom Renney has been watching Lundqvist for years and says he’ll challenge for a job sooner than people expect.

“He has a bright future,” says Renney, who is an associate coach on Team Canada. “We want to bring him along properly. The way he has played here and having had the opportunity to have him (at a prospects camp last year) he has given us no reason to think otherwise.

“Henrik wants the shooter. He wants the puck. He is not afraid to come out and take down the angle. He has good reflexes and he is a good athlete and he will have to get adjusted to the narrower rink and a different look at the attack but that is all part of the process.”

Renney likes the fact that Lundqvist knows he may have to spend some time in the minors.

“It seems to me his disposition is where you want it to be in a goaltender. Certainly in our organization it is a position we want to be stronger in and with Dan Blackburn and Henrik on the horizon and Mike Dunham in place to help us now, these young players will push people.”

Lundqvist was born in southern Sweden but grew up in rugged northern region of the country. His father is a sports enthusiast who taught the King of Sweden, King Gustaf XVI to ski.

Lundqvist has a twin, Joel, who was a third round pick by the Dallas Stars in 2000 and it’s because of Joel he’s a goalie.

“When we played road hockey someone had to play net,” he says. “Maybe I will get to face him one day. I know his moves.”

That day may not be too far off.

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05-07-2004, 11:08 AM
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Fletch
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Love this kid's attitude...

would love to see him in North America next season. It gets a bit tight, though, with Blackburn, who quite possibly could be down in Hartford, and Labarbera, who's the current incumbent and doing a fine job there.

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05-07-2004, 11:23 AM
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labarbera will likely be gone...blackburn & lundqvist take priority over him

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05-07-2004, 11:28 AM
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Not sure how...

you can make that blanket statement. Labarbera is only 24 and has made significant progress in each of his last three seasons. Unfortunately he didn't wow us behind a shaky defense in the couple mercenary chances he had this season, but by goalie standars, he's not quite old yet. Blackburn's believed to be the future because he was taken with that #1 pick a few seasons ago, but he lost a full year of development as a guy like Labarbera developed. Lundqvist's putting up great numbers in Sweden, but of course that doesn't always translate into NHL, or even AHL, success as it's not the same game, same rink size, etc. At this point, I don't know how you dismiss Labarbera over those two.

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05-07-2004, 11:45 AM
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labarbera's potential upside isn't even in the same solar system as blackburn & lundqvist...labarbera might develop into an nhl backup, blackburn & lundqvist could potentially be elite #1 goalies...

i can't see how any knowledgible person in their right mind would ever play labarbera over either of those 2 for that very reason...blackburn & lundqvist are the future of the franchise, labarbera isn't...

and at the same time, it would be completely unfair to labarbera to make him the backup in hartford because he has proven that he is much better than that...so the most logical and fair thing would be to move him to a team where he will be given the starting job in the AHL, if not a chance in the nhl...

its the same reason why holmqvist got moved

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05-07-2004, 12:04 PM
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I have to agree with NYR....

Priority will, and should go to Blackburn and Lundqvist. One, if not both of these guys are going to be a legit starting goalie. Your not going to stunt their growth for LaBarbera who is an NHL back-up at his peak. I like the guy, but he doesn't have the talents that these two guys have.

If we can keep LaBarbera then great, but you don't give him a job over two top prospects at this point.

LaBarbera is not a starting goalie in the NHL, and he's not going to be starting in Hartford this year which leaves two options - NYR backup or a trade. I think odds are he'll be moved, but time will tell.

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05-07-2004, 12:22 PM
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and on the same hand you can't have Lundqvist and Blackburn both in hartford, not enough games, thats why i think you'll see one starting in Hartford and the other sharing duties with Dunham or even starting. Or even maybe both rotating between hartford and Nyr for a while until we find out where each is at. But as it stands, both can't go to Hartford, just not enough games and minutes for to elite prospects.

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05-07-2004, 12:22 PM
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Perhaps...

I personally can't tell right now. I look at Labarbera and am impressed how he went from a seemingly lazy, fattish goalie in the ECHL to a goalie who set a record in shutouts in the AHL and who had some pretty damn good numbers which continue into the playoffs. Further, in his limited action, he did have flashes that looked pretty good. Of course he's not a former #1 pick, and he's not the country's top goaltender, but even a guy like Raycroft, who was drafted a couple rounds behind Labarbera in the same year, is now making strides as an NHL goaltender. I think the kid gets a chance to continue to improve himself and see where he is come September/October before sending him off in favor of the other two (one of which missed an entire season).

As for one possibly starting in the NHL this season...that may be a stretch at this point. Again, Blackie missed an entire season and in his last 'NHL' season he looked like a guy who may've been better served in the AHL. The other is more experienced, but he will have to adjust to a different game, a different region and a different rink size. I'm not saying he will not, but it's hard to count on one of them to be a starter in the NHL next season at this point.

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05-07-2004, 12:52 PM
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Please God let this kid be the real deal. I like the article. If they bring Lundqvist and Blackburn along properly, one of them should certainly be the Rangers future in net. The other should bring in a welcome return. I just hope they don't rush to pass judgement on either whether it be good or bad. Both kids should get ample time to show what kind of goalie they will be.

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05-07-2004, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletch
I personally can't tell right now. I look at Labarbera and am impressed how he went from a seemingly lazy, fattish goalie in the ECHL to a goalie who set a record in shutouts in the AHL and who had some pretty damn good numbers which continue into the playoffs. Further, in his limited action, he did have flashes that looked pretty good. Of course he's not a former #1 pick, and he's not the country's top goaltender, but even a guy like Raycroft, who was drafted a couple rounds behind Labarbera in the same year, is now making strides as an NHL goaltender. I think the kid gets a chance to continue to improve himself and see where he is come September/October before sending him off in favor of the other two (one of which missed an entire season).

As for one possibly starting in the NHL this season...that may be a stretch at this point. Again, Blackie missed an entire season and in his last 'NHL' season he looked like a guy who may've been better served in the AHL. The other is more experienced, but he will have to adjust to a different game, a different region and a different rink size. I'm not saying he will not, but it's hard to count on one of them to be a starter in the NHL next season at this point.
he don't get me wrong, i like labarbera and if there is a way to keep him in the mix i'm all for it. but it will be hard enough finding proper playing time for 2 goalies, no less 3...

maybe if his trade value isn't enough to bring back anything worthwhile, they could loan him to another ahl team. that way he'd still get to be a #1 goalie in the AHL and would also still remain rangers property

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05-07-2004, 03:11 PM
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Trade Labarbera to move up in draft.

NYC

Lundqvist
Dunham

Hartford

Blackburn
Valliquete

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05-07-2004, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barnaby
I have to agree with NYR....

Priority will, and should go to Blackburn and Lundqvist. One, if not both of these guys are going to be a legit starting goalie. Your not going to stunt their growth for LaBarbera who is an NHL back-up at his peak. I like the guy, but he doesn't have the talents that these two guys have.

If we can keep LaBarbera then great, but you don't give him a job over two top prospects at this point.

LaBarbera is not a starting goalie in the NHL, and he's not going to be starting in Hartford this year which leaves two options - NYR backup or a trade. I think odds are he'll be moved, but time will tell.
Priority should go to the player who PLAYS the BEST! I know, I know ... we don't believe in rewarding effort and ACTUAL results, we give ice team according to whatever we feel like because we're the Rangers ... Hockey is different here.

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05-07-2004, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddheyman
Priority should go to the player who PLAYS the BEST! I know, I know ... we don't believe in rewarding effort and ACTUAL results, we give ice team according to whatever we feel like because we're the Rangers ... Hockey is different here.
So you want LaBarbera to stay in Hartford and have Blackburn, and Lundqvist rot behind him? He's 3-4 years older, and has played in the AHL awhile of course he could be better at first. Plays the best? Do you want to see Mirinov play 20 min a game and Kondratiev go back to Russia? I'm not saying that they shouldn't bring in vets or give anyone a fair shake, but you don't play LaBarbera over Blackburn and Lundvquist because his 2nd-3rd season was very good. Ask any scout who the best goaltender will be out of those three, and I'm willing to bet that none say LaBarbera. I like the guy, but lets be realistic.

That said - Unless Lundqvist plays unbelievable I think he and Blackburn will be in Hartford. I don't think he either guy should start in the NHL. It could be said that there aren't enough games, but Blackburn obviously needs time in the minors, and I doubt Lundqvist will be ready immediately.

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05-07-2004, 04:57 PM
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What a great attitude Henrik has. These are the kind of guys I want to see on this team.

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05-07-2004, 05:57 PM
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Oh, you will see him.
You will see him.

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05-07-2004, 08:58 PM
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I have followed Lundqvist's progress here in Sweden and he has really developed into a solid world class goaltender... He is calm in net and have a solid style of play to lean against. And during the WC he has really showed how good he really are and if he continues to develop he will become something really great.

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05-07-2004, 10:10 PM
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I also saw that ESPN2 will broadcast the game versus Sweden in the World Championships. Then you'll have a chance to see Henke in action. =)

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05-08-2004, 08:20 AM
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barnaby
So you want LaBarbera to stay in Hartford and have Blackburn, and Lundqvist rot behind him? He's 3-4 years older, and has played in the AHL awhile of course he could be better at first. Plays the best? Do you want to see Mirinov play 20 min a game and Kondratiev go back to Russia? I'm not saying that they shouldn't bring in vets or give anyone a fair shake, but you don't play LaBarbera over Blackburn and Lundvquist because his 2nd-3rd season was very good. Ask any scout who the best goaltender will be out of those three, and I'm willing to bet that none say LaBarbera. I like the guy, but lets be realistic.

That said - Unless Lundqvist plays unbelievable I think he and Blackburn will be in Hartford. I don't think he either guy should start in the NHL. It could be said that there aren't enough games, but Blackburn obviously needs time in the minors, and I doubt Lundqvist will be ready immediately.
My post wasn't directed at you particularly. It was more directed at the rangers culture of playing whoever they feel should play as opposed who deserves to play. Every other team in the league plays the players that play well and sit/bench those that have sucked, not us!!! We play those with the largest paycheck, regardless of results.

If we are "rebuilding" next year, then they should consider BOTH performance and potential in playing time as errors and learning should be considered ok. However, lack of effort (aka Lundmark) should never be excused.

In regards to Labarbera, I can't comment on his potential I have only seen him play twice. As for Lundquist, I have never seen him play. Either way, I don't think it would hurt (given the fact that they are all young players) to play the player who performs the best (i.e. reward results, I know, a new concept for the rangers). And let the two others share a season in the AHL. I know Blackburn could definitely use another season (or a first for that matter) down there, and I'm sure lundquist would benefit as well. COnsequently, I don't think it would be a bad thing to reward Labarbera (assuming he plays well in camp) for being the MVP of the AHL by giving him a shot at sharing time with Dunham, Valiquette or whoever else is brought in. If he shows he is great, we can either trade him, or else keep him and trade lundquist or blackburn.

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